Monday, November 29, 2010

Pomegranate, Ancient Fruit with Recent Interest

The Pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times with its origins in Persia and the Western Himalayan range but they can found everywhere in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions. In recent years the popularity of pomegranates and its juice has increased due to its good health benefits. Some of these benefits are high levels of antioxidants and fiber. Most people tend to shy away from these fruits because they are afraid of the mess associated with removing the seeds. The dark red juice will stain. The simplest and cleanest method of extracting the juicy seeds is to score the thick skin and break apart the pomegranate under water in a bowl, separating the red seeds from the white membranes, the seeds will sink to the bottom and the membranes will float to the top. The now cleaned seeds are a great addition to a lot of dishes by providing bright color, texture and flavor. I like to sprinkle the seeds on top of my yogurt and granola in the morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holidays and the Food Industry

Most people get to enjoy time off with family and friends during holidays, but the people in the service industry are there working hard to take care of them. This last week I worked at a restaurant in Monterey California and being open on Thanksgiving it was a busy time for the whole crew, we were not able to sit down for traditional holiday meal so we had to quickly enjoy a plate of turkey and stuffing during a quiet moment. In the bottom photo is not a sunset but the rising morning sun as seen from the back kitchen door, yes they are also long days in the kitchen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My First Crab of the Season

My week long wait for the first crabs to hit the market is over, and a large Dungeness crab is in my possession. For my first taste of the season I had the idea of just eating it in its most simple form, boiled and cracked without anything but maybe a squeeze of lemon. Today's wet and cold weather changed my mind and I decided on making a hot Thai style curry, wow was it good. I am definitely looking forward to eating this again.

Thai Coconut Curry Crab
1 cooked, cleaned and cracked Dungeness crab
1 can coconut milk
1 knob ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, sliced
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 dash fish sauce
1 tablespoon green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon Thai curry paste
1 pinch cilantro, chopped

1. Saute the curry paste in a dash of vegetable oil.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 'till liquid is thickened.
3. Serve with steamed rice.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Real San Francisco Treat, Dungeness Crab

Today is the first day of the Dungeness Crab season. The famous fisherman's wharf is filled with crab boats from up and down the coast and the word on the docks is that its going to be a bumper harvest with large dense and meaty crabs. But there is some trouble with the local fisherman wanting to restrict the amount of crab the northern boats haul, it can be up to 75% of the catch. They will then be heading back North when their crab season opens. The fisherman have agreed on a set price of $1.75 a pound and with the retail price mark up its still a good value. Hopefully the crabs should be hitting the stores in a few days, in the mean time I will have thoughts of fresh cracked crab with crusty bread and chilled Napa wine. I will post photos and recipes of these first of the season crabs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mexican Style Pickled Jalapeno's

I find that the sign of a good Mexican restaurant or Taqueria is the condiments they provide, freshly made salsas and big jars of pickled Jalapenos. I decided on making a big batch of pickled jalapenos with carrots to have on hand for whenever I want to eat them, which is most of the time. Jalapenos are good to use because they are not considered too hot with a low rating of 2,500-8,000 on the Scoville scale of chili hotness compared with the Habanero at 350,000-350,000.The pickling process will also make them milder so serve them with everything!

Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots
1 pound Fresh jalapeno peppers, thick sliced
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced thick
1/2 Yellow onion, sliced thin
1 head Garlic clove, peeled
4 cups White vinegar
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
4 Bay leafs
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Dry Oregano

1. Put all ingredients in a non reactive pot and bring to a boil, turn off and let cool.

2. These peppers and carrots can be canned using normal canning procedures or kept covered and refrigerated for one month.

Note: This basic pickling liquid is good to use for a variety of chilies and vegetables.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Swiss Chard

Today is really starting to feel like Winter and with the cool weather it brings the slow cooked comfort foods I like. While visiting a local farmers market I came across some nice organic Swiss Chard, I could not walk past them without buying some, the bright colors were amazing and I am sure that the taste would be just as good. I was thinking of doing a braise with them but decided on making flat bread with sauteed chard. The leafy vegetable was quickly cooked with lots of good olive oil and garlic then arranged on top of a crispy baked bread, excellent.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mobile Food Trucks

They have been around for a long time with a old reputation of being dirty with questionable food, that has all changed and they are the new way to get amazing food cooked by some of the same chefs whose restaurants you might have dined at. The current down economy might have a lot to do with this current craze, buying and operating a mobile food truck is certainly a lot cheaper then a brick and mortar restaurant with the advantage of driving to where your customers are. The modern way of locating your favorite truck is with social web sites like Facebook and Twitter. The most common out there are Mexican taco trucks and here in Marin County there is a taco truck called "The Taco Guys"run by two guys who started out working in lots of restaurants and with the dream to do there own thing, The Taco Guys was born. The menu is a seasonal rotating blend of different tacos using the meats and fish with local organic produce. My love of the Mexican coast and a recent trip to Maui helped me pick the Maui fish taco, a lightly battered and fried marinated Ono fillet with lettuce, pickled onions and Sriracha mayonnaise sauce. The Hawaiian influence is the marinated Ono and Asian hot sauce. It was Delicious and the pickled red onions worked really well with the flavorful fish. The dream is alive and well.
The Food Guys

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Island Style Breakfast

Being on a sailboat in remote area of Hawaii does not mean that the quality of the food goes down. I spent the last weekend sailing from Maui to Lanai on my cousins sailboat, the Island is not very developed so we were forced to bring everything with us from Maui. One highlight of our sail was waking up hearing the gentle sound of the ocean with the rising sun warming me while sipping a cup of freshly made coffee served with a ripe homegrown papaya, next on the mornings menu was fantastic Southwest style omelet made with spicy tomatoes, onions, cheese and cilantro. Well fed and relaxed I was able to enjoy the rest of my day on the water.